PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A year ago this week, a young Port St. Lucie girl and her father were shot and killed by their neighbor, who police say was upset about a dispute over his dangerous dog.
It was a crime and tragedy that impacted so many lives, the deepest grief felt by 11-year-old Harper and 55-year-old Guy Hansman’s immediate loved ones, to the first responders who tried to save them, even the girl’s classmates.
But for the first time, the dispatcher who answered Harper’s 911 call, Raven Kelley, is talking about that day with hopes of making sure Harper is remembered the way Kelley remembers her.
“She was just really strong. She was brave,” Kelley said.
Harper was a student at Morningside Elementary School in Port St. Lucie. Behind the school is a tribute to Harper, who loved butterflies. A Butterfly garden with handmade decor and pictures of Harper was created on the playground.
“I carry her with me every day. I think about her every day. I see a butterfly and I think of her,” Kelley said.
Kelley recalled the 911 call that came in on July 6, 2020.
“Nothing prepared me for her call,” Kelley said.
Harper’s 82-year-old neighbor had started shooting inside the home, ultimately killing Guy Hansman who tried to stop him. But Guy bought his family time.
“I asked her if she needed police, fire, or ambulance and she said yes. She said there was a man in her home that was shooting her family,” Kelley said.
Kelley praised Harper for being able to stay calm, and clearly communicate to her. “She was so smart,” Kelley said, as Harper gave Kelley details that might have also spared more first responders from being hurt. One officer was shot in the arm.
“She knew who he was. She told me he had two weapons. She did the best to explain him to me…She knew where he was in the house and that was important as far as the entry for the officers, the deputies that were going inside the residence.”
Harper’s mother, brother, a tutor, and a friend were able to safely escape, but Harper was stuck on the second floor.
“I had her hide and one point because she couldn’t get out of the residence.”
Kelley told Harper she would stay on the phone with her while they both stayed quiet. Kelley stayed on that call until the end, when the neighbor found Harper, then turned the gun on himself.
“She was so brave, and she was a fighter. She gave it all she got and all she had. I just want people to remember her that way,” Kelley said.
Kelley said she has since moved out of state and has taken a break from being a dispatcher.
“I think afterwards I realized that I did need a break,” Kelley said.
She said therapy has helped manage the inevitable grief that comes from a call like Harper’s.
“Nightmares are real,” Kelley said.
But a year after that day, Kelley said it was finally time to speak out to make sure Harper’s legacy is one of courage and heroism.
“I hope that her name stays alive. I hope her father’s name stays alive. I don’t want them to remember Harper as someone who was scared, or you know, that cowered because she didn’t.”
Harper’s mother is also now pushing for four new laws related to her family’s tragedy, sharing the following pleas on Facebook:
For Harper Hansman:
Banning the release of 911 calls related to a murdered child. “Parents, siblings, and families of murdered children should not be forced/subjected to listen to the tape on the news…This is a minor child’s last moments and they should not be for public consumption,” Hansman said.
For Guy Hansman:
“Make it a crime when people/families fail to report that someone is a danger to themselves and others. [The shooter] was mentally ill. People close to him, and the police were aware of his behavior, yet NO ONE did anything to protect Ronald from himself or to protect the public from him. It should be against the law for failure to protect mentally ill individuals. If his behavior would have been reported, the red flag law could have been utilized to take away his weapons until he was assessed and cleared.”
For Harper’s brother:
“Any child that's a victim of a violent crime should be immediately provided with mental health. Keegan was separated from his family after being released from the hospital and he was placed in a room to be interviewed by the police. There was not one mental health professional present to help him absorb what just happened to him.”
For Monique Hansman:
“Reform Florida dog bite laws. If a dog attacks someone and causes multiple injuries and medical expenses over 15 to 20k to the victim, the dog should be immediately removed and put down. Florida law now requires the dog to attack twice in order to be removed and put down. This needs to change to a one-and-done attack based on the severity of the attack like many other states' dog bite laws currently have. If Roxy would have been removed and put down, the situation quite possibly might not have escalated…[the shooter] was a bad pet owner. Roxy was never on a leash, and she was often let out of her fenced yard to wander the golf course. She was a product of poor ownership.